Inside HqO, Isabelle Sfez, Head of Corporate Sales | HqO

Inside HqO: Isabelle Sfez

Isabelle Sfez

Head of Corporate Sales (France & Italy) at HqO

Isabelle has been with for nearly three years now, having joined the team during the HqO-Office App merger. As the Head of Corporate Sales in France and Italy, she guides her regional team through internal alignment meetings, and also works with members across the organization to identify good-fit prospects and close client deals that help grow HqO’s global footprint.

Inside HqO, Isabelle Sfez, Head of Corporate Sales | HqO

You’re part of the Office App team that came over last October. Now that Office App is HqO, how long have you collectively been with the company? 

I worked for about two years at Office App before we merged, and have been part of HqO ever since. In total, it’s been almost three years now!

Did you have previous experience in real estate?

Before Office App, I was completely new to real estate. I worked in other Head of Sales positions, but not for the proptech industry that we’re in now. It was very interesting to me at the time, because even though I was so new to the industry, real estate is actually a pretty small world. Once you start meeting the right people, luckily, you end up meeting everyone. When I started, I was focused more on landlords and property teams. Now my focus is on corporate companies and employers. It requires a bit of a different approach, but it’s also very interesting!

I’ve heard that as well — That real estate is a very relationship-driven industry. It’s the same here in the U.S., where everyone truly knows everyone.

Exactly. It’s important to identify people, approach them, and get to know them. The reason why it’s different for corporate clients is because as a sales person, you need to reach out to different people depending on the company. In one company, it might be their Workplace Experience Manager. In another, it might be their Digital Transformation Manager. It can even be the IT or Purchase departments. It’s a whole new start for each new company, but that’s also what makes it so exciting.

Let’s dig into that a little bit more! Walk me through an average day.

I always start my day by reading the news — mostly the corporate and real estate news — because there you can see what has been bought, what has been sold, or which corporate company is looking for digital transformation. Then, based on my priorities for the week, I make sure to schedule time to move forward in the deals I’m working on. Of course, I also have internal meetings with the Sales team to align on strategy for the next three-to-six months out, and to discuss anything else we need to do to improve our numbers. This includes prospecting. You need to map out the accounts you are working on, and to identify new potential customers. It takes time to find the right people to connect with, and to address them with the right message that speaks to their values and goals.

Absolutely. Do you collaborate with any other internal teams besides Sales?

I do. I actually collaborate quite a bit with our French team. Their customers are mostly landlords, but we still work together on certain joint deals. Having both a landlord and a corporate approach makes the whole process very interesting, because we are complementary in many ways.

I also work with the team in the United States, of course, since that’s where most of our leadership is based. It also feeds into our step-down strategic approach. For example, when working on global deals, I might be the local representative. So, I’ll talk to our Global Partnerships team for those types of projects. There are even instances where I’ll work with our Implementation team on the more technical parts of a deal. It’s been really nice to work with HqOers across the globe.

I love seeing us all come together from different parts of the world. Is there a project that you’re most proud of, from either your Office App days or now at HqO?

For me, it’s whenever I’m working on a big project, like an RFP. We haven’t won all of them, of course, but it’s not an easy task and it’s a very interesting process. When I’m on a large RFP, I have to set up a whole team including teammates from Customer Success, Technical/Implementation, Product, and Sales. You’re working deeply with stakeholders from different realms and divisions. At the same time, you are working to address very specific pain points and needs of a particular client so you really need to understand what they’re looking for. I’ve had to take this consultative approach to solve those issues and transform the whole workplace experience. I love those types of challenges, because we’re all working together for a common cause. There is never a dull moment.

Inside HqO, Isabelle Sfez, Head of Corporate Sales | HqO

Since you often take this consultative approach with our clients, is there anything special that you’ve learned from them that is important to the work we do?

Definitely. It’s really important to hear what the client has to say, and then to be able to translate those needs into concrete use-cases that can solve their pain points. As a consultant, I find myself proposing sometimes guiding them towards solutions they may not have even thought of, but I also find them bringing up unique solutions that might make sense. Though it’s important to have a nice app that works well, it’s more important to have an app that is used and enjoyed by employees. Transparency throughout this process is key, from both sides, so we can use new knowledge to truly make an impact.

Additionally, it’s also important to understand that even if a contract is signed, it’s not a done deal. You still have to make sure the client feels unique and heard. You can choose to approach clients from your level, or from the level of other teams who work with landlords and property teams. Everyone has a different circle of influence. If you really want to leverage on a specific contract, you should use all the circles of influence and different connections to establish a full picture for the decision makers. That’s something that has been pretty important for my job.

Is there a client you work with who uses our technology in a really cool way?

Yes, some of our French clients like Gecina. What I find very interesting in their approach is that they’ve developed a brand new brand, which is called YouFirst, where they basically put the client at the heart of their entire workplace strategy. We have been developing an app around this for their larger portfolio. This allows their tenants to have the same branded experience through any Gecina-owned building they come across. I think from a customer experience, this strong sense of connected brand is seamless and enticing.

That is very cool! Which types of technologies excite you the most in the real estate industry?

There are a couple of things. As an employee, what I use most is room booking because what I need the most in my day is to find spaces to have meetings and collaborate. From a more high-level perspective, I’m invested in everything related to data. Today, we can confidently say that thanks to the data that is provided, you can better understand your clients of a given building — whether it’s tenants or employees — which gives you a much better understanding of how they use the space, how they experience the space, their habits, what they like, and so forth. Thanks to data, you can really be strong in terms of offerings, whether you’re providing a physical space for employees, making space changes, or integrating your building with the community. It also gives clients the ability to predict certain trends and happenings, to be more proactive about their future investments.

In your own words, how is workplace experience technology shaping the future of the industry?

Our technology really connects the physical space through the digital. This digitization brings people much closer to the spaces we use and to the colleagues we see every day. This approach is at the heart of our company, because we really focus on how people interact with each other and how they can have an efficient and productive day at work. I love being in the center of the daily life of an employee. An employee has their own job to do, which isn’t part of our job necessarily. However, for everything else, they need us. We can improve their workplace experience so that they can focus on doing the job they were hired to do. And that’s really critical.

What excites you the most about working at HqO?

When I first started at Office App, I was employee number 17. We were a small company. Now, after almost three years, we have more than 250 employees and we are still expanding globally. It’s been fascinating to go through the different phases of a company, and where your input is really helping design and shape the future. Our inputs here, in terms of improving product strategy or client experiences or key partnerships, are valuable. In a way, we’re all in the middle of the storm. That’s what makes it so exciting! I think in a year or two, we’ll be so far from where we are right now and it’s going to be completely possible because we all have a say in how that happens.

Inside HqO pulls back the curtain and introduces you to the people who make HqO the undisputed leader in workplace experience technology. For more information on HqO, click here. If you’re interested in joining Isabelle and the HqO team, check out all of our current openings here.